RPGFan Exclusive Interview #5: Shintarou Majima, president, Arte Piazza
translated by Chris Winkler
While Arte Piazza may not (yet) be a household name in the US, the Tokyo-based company is well-known in Japan as one of the key forces behind the country's most popular RPG series, Dragon Quest. Founded in 1989, the company has been involved in Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest VII, the PlayStation remake of Dragon Quest IV and most recently the critically acclaimed PlayStation 2 remake of the Super Famicom classic Dragon Quest V: Tenkuu no Hanayome. Last year, Marvelous Interactive announced that it had chosen Arte Piazza as the developer for its new PlayStation Portable title Innocent Life: Shin Bokujou Monogatari (Harvest Moon). RPGFan took the occasion of the game's upcoming release in Japan to talk to Arte Piazza president Shintarou Majima about Innocent Life, his company's relationship with Square Enix and Marvelous Interactive as well as the future of Arte Piazza.

Q: Mr. Majima, we have many questions for you, but first could you tell us about the impetus, which made you enter the game industry?
A: During my student years I was studying industrial design, but the impetus of receiving a request for a game's package design resulted in me doing game character designs and CG design and even development, before I knew it.

Q: Arte Piazza has announced that it is currently working on Innocent Life: Bokujou Monogatari for PlayStation Portable. Let's hear about the game's development status.
A: Currently we are approaching the master up [phase] and making final adjustments.

Q: How does Innocent Life: Bokujou Monogatari differ from previous installments of the Bokujou Monogatari series? The game is called a simulation RPG, but what RPG elements specifically are you implementing?
A: The biggest difference from previous installments is the world. The protagonist is not a human being and the character design is totally different. A major RPG element is that the framework that allows the protagonist to go after his farming has expanded. Hence, the character will grow like a human being and then [embark] on an adventure, providing a wider scope.

Q: What do you think is the reason behind the publisher of the Bokujou Monogatari series, Marvelous Interactive selecting Arte Piazza as the developer for Innocent Life: Bokujou Monogatari?
A: I think we received the request for developing a game as a new section in the Bokujou Monogatari series because our company's achievements up to this point have received high praise. We are very grateful for being given such an interesting job.

Q: Arte Piazza has cooperated with Square Enix on the development of the Dragon Quest series in the past, but will this cooperation continue in the future as well?
A: We have built a good relationship with Square Enix over a long period of time. I think there will be opportunities to work together in the future as well.

Q: Is Arte Piazza working on any other projects apart from Innocent Life: Shin Bokujou Monogatari? Are you already planning and developing a game for next-generation consoles?
A: We are currently working on a yet-to-be announced RPG. As far as next-generation consoles are concerned, we are currently looking at planning [for them].

Q: Mr. Majima, what are your expectations for 2006?
A: I love cars. Because with cars, just like with games, recently one side's needs are getting bigger, there is a trend of developing [these kind of] products. For instance, it seems as if the size of cars is slowly but surely getting bigger. As for 2006, I really wish for the birth of light-hearted, yet clear products.

Q: Mr. Majima, what games are you playing yourself? A: I like games with strong interactivity. Games I particularly like are Metroid, Legend of Zelda and the Dragon Quest series.

RPGFan would like to thank Shintarou Majima and Sachiko Sugimura for their cooperation and support in enabling us to present this exclusive interview to our readers.